Week 9: Challenges When Breaking Patterns

Exploring the inevitable challenges that arise when we start breaking our repeating patterns. What might happen as we use the Pattern Break process, and how do we handle those challenges?

When we start breaking the repeating patterns in our life, there can be unexpected results. Maybe we find we have strong resistance to even starting with the Pattern Break practice. Sometimes, we uncover unusually strong emotional drivers for patterns, and we need to spend some time regulating before we can start work on breaking that pattern. We can even face surprising reactions from people around us when we start acting from a different place than our habitual repeating patterns.

This week, we take a tour of some of the common challenges you may encounter, and provide some guidance on dealing with the challenges.

What to do Next:
  1.  Watch videos (0901, 0903, 0904)
  2. If you have a stuck emotional driver, the guided practice (0902: The Feeling That Won’t Let Go)
  3. Reflect and/or journal about any resistance you have noticed
  4. Continue practising Emotional Pressure Release and Pattern Break practices
Multimedia Course Content

Video 0901: Challenges With The Pattern Break

How to adjust the pattern break practice to accommodate your individual circumstances.


Video 0903: Listening to Shame

One of the most common, least recognised emotional drivers of repeating patterns is shame. Shame can show up as feeling “not good enough” (I am not ready, I need to learn more, I will never get this, I am doing this wrong, this might work for other people, but it won’t work for me …) or it can manifest as a paralysing feeling of dread and despair. Working with shame is an essential skill for repairing a damaged emotional system.

Video 0904: Integrating Change

What to expect when your emotional system is rebalancing after a major change.


Guided Practice: The Feeling That Won’t Let Go

A guided practice to facilitate an inner dialogue about a stubborn emotional driver that doesn’t want to release.

Transcript: Video 0902

The Feeling That Won't Let Go (audio)

by Jenny Hale | Emotional Mastery Program

Going Beyond Mindfulness

As therapists increasingly incorporate mindfulness into their work, they’re discovering what Buddhists have known for centuries: everyone (even those with severe inner turmoil) can access a state of spacious well-being by beginning to notice their more turbulent thoughts and feelings, rather than becoming swallowed up by them.

Being Happy Can Be A Challenge

Tips for happiness from “Why You Are Afraid To Be Happy” on Liberationist.org:


  1. Happiness is acceptance of who we are. Things come and go. You can face adversity and still be happy. When you accept who you are, you are in peace.
    “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
  2. Your social relationships are your roots. Even the most robust trees need grounding. Regardless of your strengths or how accepting you are of your true-self, you still need others. Your friends or family can provide the strength you need to overcome adversity.
  3. Happiness is a personal choice: Stop looking for external solutions that will make you happy. The answer is inside of you. Things or people can’t make you happy; it’s your choice to feel that way.
    “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. Your happiness is part of an ecosystem. We are part of the larger collective happiness; we are connected to the World and Nature. Caring about the world and community we live improves our state of mind. You can’t be happy in your own bubble.
  5. Happiness is collective, not personal. Becoming a better person means positive influencing those around us. Happiness is a byproduct of putting the interests of others before yourself. Happy people don’t make their personal happiness their main goal.
  6. Being present helps deal with hardship. Not checking out when things get ugly encourages us to embrace the present moment fully. To stop being at war with reality and accept life as is. Being mindfully present help us both deal with life when it’s uncomfortable and to not feel guilty when things are doing great.
  7. Happy people age better. There’s a direct link between how satisfied you are in your relationship with a longer life expectancy. As Robert Waldinger said in his popular TED Talk: “When we gathered together everything we knew about them about at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old.”
  1. What changes have you noticed after using the Pattern Break? Have you fully broken that first pattern, or do you need to repeat the Pattern Break a few more times?
  2. Thinking about the repeating patterns on your list, which ones do you feel are ready for the Pattern Break process – they are the right “size”, and you have identified the emotional drivers?
  3. How do you feel about using the Pattern Break? Do you have concerns or resistance? Are you fully confident? Are there questions you need to ask your coach?

Earlier Weeks

Earlier Weeks

Frequently Asked Questions

Surely there are some wounds that are too deep to ever heal completely?

A: While it can sometimes feel as though it is impossible to shift an underlying emotion, the truth is that our emotional system is always open to change. 

Our subconscious is seeking the lowest-energy state of balance it can achieve, and a stuck emotion consumes energy. Therefore, the subconscious is always seeking ways to release stuck emotions.

The reason some emotions seem to be permanently stuck is that they are serving a purpose, and the subconscious believes they are the only way to achieve that purpose.

When you are able to get a productive dialogue happening between your analytical and your experiencing intelligences, you will be able to support your subconscious to develop a better way to achieve the purpose. As soon as that is done, the stuck emotion will be free to release.

Q: I am never sure that I have the right feeling to work with in the Pattern Break practice.

A: Uncertainty (confusion, self-doubt, second-guessing) can be, itself, a repeating pattern. Use the Emotional Driver practice to explore the emotional driver underlying your feeling of uncertainty. Once you have identified the emotional driver of the uncertainty, use the Pattern Break practice on that underlying emotion. If you find yourself too uncertain to explore your uncertainty on your own, ask your coach to guide you through the process of using the Pattern Break on your uncertainty.


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Additional Exploration

References, optional further study and additional practices

Academic References

Peele, S and Brodsky, A. (1975) Love and Addiction Broadrow Publications

Schwartz, Richard C. (August 2013). “Moving from acceptance toward transformation with Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)”Journal of Clinical Psychology69 (8): 805–816. doi:10.1002/jclp.22016PMID 23813465.

Theory, research and exercises to support breaking even the toughest types of repeating patterns – substance addictions.

Additional helpful tips for breaking emotionally-driven repeating patterns.

What happens when we get addicted to a person? Or to sex? Or to romantic love?

Helen Fisher on the biochemistry of lust, attraction, and attachment.

About Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher (born May 31, 1945) is an American anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author. She is a biological anthropologist, is a senior research fellow, at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, and a member of the Center For Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University.

In 2005, she was hired by match.com to help build chemistry.com, which used her research and experience to create both hormone-based and personality-based matching systems. She appears in the 2014 documentary film about heart-break and loneliness, entitled Sleepless in New York and the 2017 PBS Nova special on computerized dating, ‘How to Find Love Online’.

Fisher and her colleagues studied the brain circuitry of romantic love by fMRI-scanning the brains of forty-nine men and women: seventeen who had just fallen madly in love, fifteen who had just been dumped, and seventeen who reported that they were still in love after an average of twenty-one years of marriage.

In her book, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, Fisher proposed that humanity has evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction:

  1. lust – the sex drive or libido.
  2. attraction – early stage intense romantic love.
  3. attachment – deep feelings of union with a long term partner.

The sex drive evolved to initiate mating with a range of partners; romantic love evolved to focus one’s mating energy on one partner at a time; and attachment evolved to enable us to form a pair bond and rear young together as a team.

Some of the internal conflicts driving repeating patterns in relationships have their roots in conflicts between these three systems, or in our use of the lust and attraction systems as addictive coping strategies to escape deeper-seated unpleasant emotions.

“Despite making a commitment to quit, and going through the withdrawal phase, conflicts do not simply go away. Expectations are higher than ever before. The one thing you depended on to cope with stress—the addictive behavior—is now off-limits. This is why it is so important to have other ways of coping firmly established, ideally before quitting.”

Brianna Gilmartin